Primary Mission Field Goals
- Learn the dominant language of the Soroti Region: Ateso
- Serve alongside the Sutphens (veteran missionary family) at Soroti Independent Baptist Church
- Aide current Soroti Independent Baptist Church church plants
- Establish an indigenous church in Awoja with James
- Establish an indigenous church in Ogolo-Katin with Abiru
- Teach in the Soroti Bible Institute
- Serve in the Soroti Orphanage (SOAP), a local church ministry
- Continue to establish more indigenous churches
My name is Matthew Gardner, and my wife Savannah and I have been led by God to minister to the people of Uganda. I was saved at the young age of five on July 11, 1999. My pastor, Pastor David Pittman, was preaching through the book of Luke. That night’s message was from Luke 16 on the subject of Hell. That night, as I lay on my bed, I thought about everything that my pastor had preached on. It was in my bedroom where I accepted Jesus as my Savior. The next week my pastor baptized me at my home church, Temple Baptist Church of Herndon, Virginia.
During my eleventh grade of high school, I was called to preach at my church’s annual missions conference. The night that I accepted the call to preach, Dr. Sisk preached a message from Romans 12 on the Christian’s reasonable service. The Lord had been working in my heart for the past few months preparing me for that message. Unbeknownst to me, my youth pastor and assistant youth pastor had been praying for the Lord to call someone from the youth group into full time Christian service. After I went forward and surrendered to the call that the Lord had laid on my heart, they explained that they had been praying for months for God to work in the youth group in that way. I felt the Lord burdening my heart for missions, so when I surrendered to preach, I surrendered to preach as a missionary.
After receiving counsel from my parents and my pastor, as well as spending time in prayer on the matter, I decided that West Coast Baptist College was the place that I needed to train to prepare for my calling. After graduating from West Coast Baptist College, I returned to my home church in Virginia and served there while I completed my online masters from Veritas Baptist College.
It was at West Coast where I met the love of my life, Savannah. I was so impressed with her testimony, her strong work ethic, her character, and her standards. Over the next three years, the Lord blessed our relationship, and on March 15, 2019, we got married. When we first started dating, I was a senior, but she was a freshman. It was while she finished her teaching degree at West Coast when I went back to Temple Baptist Church and completed my masters. Now that we both have graduated, and I have had the privilege of getting three years of experience in ministry, we are starting deputation. We are so excited to serve the Lord in Uganda and to be ambassadors for the cause of Christ!
The Lord was gracious enough to allow me to be born into a loving and faithful Christian family. My whole life I was surrounded by my family who was always working in different aspects of the ministry and loved it. My grandfather, James Rushing, Sr., was a pastor for approximately thirty years and an evangelist for seventeen years. My grandmother, Betty Rushing, helped my grandfather wherever he needed, spoke at ladies’ conferences, and continues to teach a ladies’ Sunday school class at her church. I also have various uncles and aunts who are pastors and pastors’ wives or who teach in Christian schools. My dad, Ron Clapp, has been an assistant pastor, music director, and deacon. My mom, Glory Clapp, has been the church pianist and a teacher at my Christian high school. These faithful people’s testimonies have had a huge impact in my life.
At the age of five, I realized that I was a sinner and accepted Christ as my Savior. At the time, my dad was on staff at Gwinnett County Baptist Church in Suwannee, Georgia. After the Sunday evening service, my dad saw that I was struggling and took me aside, made sure I understood salvation, and led me to the Lord on January 20, 2002. I was baptized the next week by my pastor, Rick Camperson. It was not until ten years later in February of 2012 that I completely surrendered to serve the Lord in full-time ministry at the Mid-Winter Youth Conference at King’s Way Baptist Church in Douglasville, Georgia.
After I graduated high school in 2015 from Peoples Baptist Academy in McDonough, Georgia, I attended West Coast Baptist College in Lancaster, California. While I was there, I studied Secondary Education with proficiencies in history and English. It was during my freshman year that I felt the Lord leading me towards missions. Dr. Mark Rasmussen was preaching in March of 2016 on being an ambassador for Christ when I began to feel the Lord burdening my heart about missions. I struggled with surrendering to the call for a few days because the thought of being a missionary had always terrified me. The Lord used several people in the following two days to help me make the decision to surrender, and it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Since I finished college in December of 2018, I have married my best friend and have helped alongside him in multiple ministries at our church, Temple Baptist Church in Herndon, Virginia. I am excited to help him as we begin our next ministry in Soroti, Uganda.